• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How is the symbol of food used to bring about character development in the novels Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

English Paper I-Draft 1 Prompt: How is the symbol of food used to bring about character development in the novels 'Metamorphosis' by Franz Kafka and 'The Woman in the Dunes' by Kobo Abe? In both Metamorphosis and The Woman in the Dunes, food is used in various ways. It is used as a symbol to bring out the different stages of the character, to set the character within the hierarchical structure of the novel, to develop the main character's relationship with the nourisher and to show how the protagonist reaches realizations. Through all these ways, food is used as a focus to bring about character development. This is evident in many examples found in both novels. Food is used as a symbol to show how the character develops through the novel. At the beginnings of both books, the main characters, Gregor Samsa and Nikki Jumpei change their eating habits, a change which has a dual purpose. Firstly, it underscores the fact that they go through major adjustments, and secondly, their choice in food is used to symbolize their state in life. In Metamorphosis, Gregor's choice in food is described as "...half- decayed vegetables... a piece of cheese that Gregor would have called uneatable two days ago..." (Chapter 2). As he transforms from a human to a cockroach, he transits from enjoying his favorite 'human' food to eating rotting food. ...read more.

Middle

It is evident from his surprise while she does this that he is not used to being treated like this, and that he has risen in the hierarchical structure of The Woman in the Dunes. Evidently, in one novel, the protagonist moves down in the hierarchical structure, while in the other, the protagonist rises. Both authors use mealtimes to bring out these changes. The reader can see that in the two books, though they experience opposite hierarchical changes, it is meal times that are used to express these changes, which further develop the characters. In addition to the different stages of life and hierarchy, in both novels the woman, who is the provider of food and nourishment, also plays an important role in character development. In Metamorphosis, Gregor's sister notices that some milk has spilt around the edge of his feeding bowl and carries it away with a cloth. In this example, the spilt milk is a foreshadowing of the ceasing of nourishment. Furthermore, that Grete would rather not touch the bowl with her bare hands is symbolic of how the brother and sister grow apart and how Gregor soon disgusts his sister. In Nikki Jumpei's case, it is the woman in the dunes who nourishes him with food. At moments of setbacks, to comfort him, the woman suggests cooking dinner, which suggests that this is the way they overcome problems. ...read more.

Conclusion

On the other hand, Nikki Jumpei regains some hope and builds a contraption to help him escape, but when he ends up collecting fresh water, his plans change. In this instance, Nikki starts off by trying to lure an animal into his trap, similar to how the villagers tried to trap him. However, his contraption results firstly in the decay of a fish, which symbolizes the end of his meaningless life, and secondly, the surprising collection of pure water, which symbolizes his unforeseen realization in the end. In Metamorphosis, as well as The Woman in the Dunes, food is used to show how the protagonists make realizations regarding their lives and make decisions based on these. Throughout both novels, Franz Kafka and Kobo Abe effectively use the symbol of food to develop the main character in various ways: by showing different stages of the character, setting the character within the hierarchical structure of the novel, developing the protagonist's relationship with the nourisher, and showing the deterioration and final realizations of the character. However, Gregor and Nikki's realizations have different outcomes. Kafka uses food as a means for the protagonist to achieve his realization of his meaningless existence, which leads to his death. On the other hand, Kobo Abe uses food to lead to the character's finding meaning in his discovery and his 're-birth'. Though there are some similarities and some differences in the way the theme of food has been used, the effect is the same: developing a strong character. 1413 words ?? ?? ?? ?? Mahima Dhume 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Character development of Shukhov in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich ...

    3 star(s)

    There was truth in old saw: pay short money and get short value." It shows the importance of work for Shukhov and he maintains it throughout the novel by refusing to scrounge and by slacking off when he is working.

  2. William Goldings novel Pincher Martin considered to be one of his best novels which ...

    Although there are no characters interacting straight in the novel, Martin becomes the hero, since his struggles for survival increase in importance. Martin struggles (apparently) during seven days it becomes obvious that he is in constant agony. Each day's agony is essential in viewing and literally living through his point of view, his road to death.

  1. Marked Essay.Compare and Contrast the effect of the narrative point of view in 'The ...

    There are both similarities and differences in the psyche of an autistic mind and a typical nine year -. old mind and it is evident and effective in the two narrative points of view in the two texts. For an autistic mind social development is often either much delayed or almost nonexistent.

  2. Portrayal of Food in Literature

    Shoba develops a disinterest in cooking because a sense of isolation overcomes her. Shukumar reflects, "if it weren't for him, he knew, Shoba would eat a bowl of cereal for her dinner" (8). Shoba loses her interest so much so that Shukumar takes up her job of cooking and we witness a gender role reversal.

  1. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a novel that very effectively brings out the economic ...

    Gregor is in the delusion that his family is calling for the locksmith and doctor to help him out but in fact it was only because they wanted him to go to work thus throwing light upon the lonesome and desolate life he led.

  2. How significant is the role of love in the deaths of both Thomas Manns ...

    Aschenbach had a love of order. In Death And Venice, Aschenbach?s first outright emotion was to show disgust at a figure that shows false youth. He felt that this youth was unnatural, harsh and that underneath all the flamboyance was still the evidence of age. He at that point felt that his moral compass was the strongest.

  1. How does Browning bring vividly to life the men and their relationships in Porphyrias ...

    We know that he is extremely possessive as is also later substantiated with the line ?she was mine, mine, fair?. He feels the need to declare his possessions, because of what seems to be an inferiority complex. This is further confirmed in the lines: ?But passion sometimes would prevail, Nor

  2. The role of duties and responsibilities in 'the metamorphosis'

    Consequently, ?a slight indisposition, a dizzy spell?, prevents Gregor to be an ordinary human. Although, Gregor has been using different factors and reasons to excuse his reluctant behavior towards a change in his lifestyle, his parents have affected his situation tremendously, whereas ?if it wasn?t for his parents? sake, he could have quit [his laborious job] ages ago?.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work